Students who are interested in becoming distribution managers can pursue a Master of Science in Transportation and Logistics Management, a Master of Transportation and Logistics Management, a Master of Supply Chain Management, or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in supply chain or logistics management. In these programs, students can expect to take courses in domestic supply chain management and global logistics management. An accredited bachelor's degree is required for admission to any of these programs. Some schools specify that the undergraduate degree must be in business administration.
Master's Degrees in Transportation and Logistics Management
Two common degrees in the field are the Master of Science (M.S.) in Transportation and Logistics Management and the Master of Transportation and Logistics Management. Degree requirements are very similar, and programs typically require the completion of 30-36 credit hours. The following courses may be included in the curriculum:
- Transportation history
- Differences and similarities in transportation modes
- Managing transportation around the U.S.
- Technology and computers for transportation and logistics
- Objectives and designs in transportation strategies
Master of Supply Chain Management
These programs often include the same core coursework as programs in transportation and logistics management, but they also include advanced studies in marketing and customer relations. These programs generally require about 36 credit hours of coursework. Common course topics include:
- Management of supply chains
- Information systems
- Transportation and distribution
- Strategic acquisitions
- Designs and strategies for supply chains
- Models for data decisions
- International trade
- Information technology
- Logistics management
Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Supply Chain or Logistics Management
These programs combine advanced studies in business with training in supply chain and logistics management. Students learn to develop strategies for transporting goods that ensure cost efficiency, punctuality, and excellent customer service. Depending on the student's previous education and work experience, they may be required to fulfill between 36 and 60 hours of coursework prior to graduation. Bridge courses, which available online or on campus, may be required for those with non-business degrees who need to fulfill prerequisites for MBA courses. Common course topics include:
- Designing business processes for supply chains
- Global sourcing
- Inventory management for supply chains
- Management operations for supply chains
- Methods for business research
- Supply chain management seminar
Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of jobs in a wide range of industries. Possible job titles include:
- Acquisitions or purchasing manager
- Supply chains and logistics consultant
- Distribution center or fulfillment supervisor
- Manager of supply chain software
- Transportation coordinator or manager
- Fleet operations manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by transportation, storage, and distribution managers, including logistics managers, was $86,630 in May 2015. The BLS predicted that the employment for these professionals would increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024.
To enhance professional opportunities in the field, graduates can pursue certification from the Association for Operations Management (known as APICS) and the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL). APICS offers two main certifications: the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and the Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM). Earning either of these credentials can waive some of the requirements for earning the Certification in Transportation and Logistics (CTL) from the ASTL. A bachelor's degree is required to pursue the CTL, so many can receive this credential before undertaking a master's degree program.
Several other certifications are available to those with a degree in supply chain management. The Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) is a prestigious certification offered by APICS. In order to earn this credential, professionals must pass an exam. This certification also requires renewal every five years. In order to maintain certification, students must acquire a certain number of professional development points, which can be earned by participating in continuing education opportunities such as workshops and conferences.
To summarize, there are multiple master's degrees that cover topics in transportation and logistics management. Although there are some core similarities, there are important distinctions that can help students decide between them.